ARTHUR, Chester A. (1829-1886), President. Partly printed document signed ("Chester A. Arthur") as President, authorizing the Secretary of State to affix the Seal of the United States to his Proclamation of Mourning for President James Garfield, Washington, 22 September 1881. 1 page, 4to (9 15/16 x 8 in.), accomplished in manuscript, integral blank, very minor tear and stain at top, otherwise in fine condition. [With:] BLAINE, James G. (1830-1893), Secretary of State. Clipped signature tipped to a printed copy of Arthur's Proclamation of Mourning, n.p., n.d.
THE DEATH OF GARFIELD: PRESIDENT ARTHUR DECLARES A DAY OF MOURNING AS HIS FIRST OFFICIAL ACT
For two months, President Garfield lay on his bed at the White House suffering from painful wounds inflicted by Charles Guiteau. After three operations to remove bone fragments and drain abscesses, the President contracted blood poisoning. As his suffering increased, Garfield asked to be taken to Elberon, New Jersey. By September 17, he was drifting in and out of consciousness due to the onset of pneumonia. On the 19th, President Garfield died and his body was removed to Cleveland, Ohio, for burial.
Chester A. Arthur was nominated as Garfield's running mate to heal a deep fissure which divided the Republican Party. His political career before elevation to the Vice Presidency was limited to an appointed post, Collector of the Port of New York. Arthur learned of Garfield's death while at his home in New York the Oath of Office was administered by New York Supreme Court Justice John Brady at 2:15 A.M. on September 20th. Two days later, in what would be his first official act, he proclaimed September 26, the day of Garfield's burial, as a national day of mourning: "Whereas in His inscrutable wisdom it has pleased God to remove from us the illustrious head of the Nation, James A. Garfield, late President of the United States...in obedience to sacred duty and in accordance with the desire of the People, I, Chester A. Arthur...do hereby appoint Monday, next, the twenty-sixth day of September...to be observed throughout the United States as a day of humiliation and mourning."
Here the new President orders that the seal be affixed to his proclamation: "I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of State to cause the Seal of the United States to be affixed to my Proclamation appointing a day of humiliation and mourning dated this day, and signed by me; and for so doing this shall be his warrant." Together two items.
Provenance: Mrs. Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby's, 31 October 1985, lot 55). (2)